The death of Bishop Richard Wood of Namibia

Bishop Richard Wood with daughter and grandson

The death was announced earlier this week of Richard Wood, former Anglican bishop-suffragan of Namibia. He was 88.

From The Namibian (Windhoek):

As Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Damaraland, which is today the Diocese of Namibia, Wood succeeded Bishops Colin Winter and Robert Mize as the head of the Anglican Church in Namibia.

Like his predecessors, Wood's opposition to apartheid eventually irked the South African authorities to such an extent that he was expelled from Namibia as an "undesirable" person.

"I happily accept their judgement. I would be quite ashamed if I had not been a
'troublesome priest' to them," Wood commented to The Windhoek Advertiser after
he had been ordered to leave the country.


His reputation as an unconventional priest spread, fuelled also by his reluctance to wear traditional clerical dress, Mrs Wood recalled.

"If you wear a clerical collar people don't swear at you. When you dress as they do, though, they treat you as a human being," he said.

From Khanya

He was based at Keetmanshoop, which had not had a resident Anglican priest
for many years, and travelled about in a secondhand Volkswagen Kombi he had
bought. When he visited Windhoek he usually stayed with us in our commune, the
Community of St Simon the Zealot, and amazed us with his ability to concoct
delicious salads out of the most unlikely-seeming ingredients.

After a couple of years of doing this he decided to go to the UK to look at various Anglican religious communities there to get ideas for forming such a community in
Namibia. On the same plane with him was Cathy Roark, a young American who had
spent a year in the diocese as a youth worker. She accompanied him on a visit to
one religious community, and they decided to get married. Richard wrote to
Bishop Winter with the bad news that he would not be establishing a celibate
religious community in Namibia, but with the good news that he had found one
other person to take life vows with him.

Soon after that Bishop Winter was deported from Namibia. Richard and Cathy Wood returned to Namibia, and when the Anglican diocese decided that it did not want Bishop Winter to resign, but to continue as bishop-in-exile, Richard Wood was elected as suffragan bishop, and served there until he himself was deported by the South African government, which then controlled Namibia, a couple of years later.


In his latter years Richard became somewhat disillusioned with and estranged from the institutional church, and especially with its failure to denounce Tony Blair’s warmongering.

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